How to control a GPIO in userspace

Revision as of 13:38, 7 June 2023 by Registered User (Update article with libgpiod v2)
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Applicable for STM32MP13x lines, STM32MP15x lines

1. Purpose[edit source]

This article shows two ways to control a GPIO in userspace:

  • using libgpiod
  • by writing an application

2. GPIO control through libgpiod[edit source]

libgpiod provides a C library and tools for interacting with the linux GPIO character device (gpiod stands for GPIO device). See the libgpiod repository[1] for further explanation.

  • gpiodetect
    • List all gpiochips present on the system
    • Usage:
gpiochip0 [GPIOA] (16 lines)
gpiochip9 [GPIOZ] (8 lines)
  • gpioinfo
    • list all lines of specified gpiochips, their names, consumers, and their settings
    • Usage:
gpiochip11 - 16 lines:
       line   0:      unnamed       unused   input  active-high 
       line   1:      unnamed       unused   input  active-high



gpioinfo -c gpiochip0    -->to only print gpiochip0 lines
  • gpioget
    • Read the values of the specified GPIO lines (not valid if the line is already requested). The line will be then configured as input.

gpioget -c gpiochip0 13  -->to get value of GPIO PA5
"13"=inactive                     -->means the line is driven low
  • gpioset
    • Set the values of the specified GPIO lines, potentially keeping the lines exported, and wait until timeout, user input or signal (not valid if the line is already requested).

gpioset -c gpiochip0 14=0                -->get GPIO PA14 and set it low (green led on)
Ctrl + C
gpioset -c gpiochip0 14=1                -->get GPIO PA14 and set it high (green led off)
Ctrl + C
gpioset -t 500ms -c gpiochip0 14=active  -->get GPIO PA14 and toogle it every 500ms (green led blink) 
Ctrl + C

3. GPIO control through your own application[edit source]

3.1. Purpose[edit source]

This application toggles GPIO PA14 (GPIO bank A, line 14). On STM32MP15_Evaluation_boards or STM32MP15_Discovery_kits GPIO PA14 is connected to the green LED.

This application must be cross compiled with same toolchain as the Kernel.

3.2. Code[edit source]

#include <errno.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <sys/ioctl.h>
#include <unistd.h>

#include <linux/gpio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
	struct gpiohandle_request req;
	struct gpiohandle_data data;
	char chrdev_name[20];
	int fd, ret;

	strcpy(chrdev_name, "/dev/gpiochip0");

	/*  Open device: gpiochip0 for GPIO bank A */
	fd = open(chrdev_name, 0);
	if (fd == -1) {
		ret = -errno;
		fprintf(stderr, "Failed to open %s\n", chrdev_name);

		return ret;

	/* request GPIO line: GPIO_A_14 */
	req.lineoffsets[0] = 14;
	memcpy(req.default_values, &data, sizeof(req.default_values));
	strcpy(req.consumer_label, "led_gpio_a_14");
	req.lines  = 1;

	ret = ioctl(fd, GPIO_GET_LINEHANDLE_IOCTL, &req);
	if (ret == -1) {
		ret = -errno;
		fprintf(stderr, "Failed to issue GET LINEHANDLE IOCTL (%d)\n",
	if (close(fd) == -1)
		perror("Failed to close GPIO character device file");

	/*  Start led blinking */
	while(1) {

		data.values[0] = !data.values[0];
		ret = ioctl(req.fd, GPIOHANDLE_SET_LINE_VALUES_IOCTL, &data);
		if (ret == -1) {
			ret = -errno;
			fprintf(stderr, "Failed to issue %s (%d)\n",

	/*  release line */
	ret = close(req.fd);
	if (ret == -1) {
		perror("Failed to close GPIO LINEHANDLE device file");
		ret = -errno;
	return ret;

3.3. Build application[edit source]

See Adding_Linux_user_space_applications to build this application.

4. References[edit source]